If it’s Friday, it must be France …
Excusez-moi! First an apology – OMG, this is my FOURTH post this week!!! Holy S***! I normally only post twice a week so – to you wonderful subscribers – please don’t hate me. I promise not to bombard you with posts this often ever again … or … at least hardly ever. You know, sometimes stuff just happens. I really wanted to support Darlene Jones with her exciting novel launch on Monday, and then there was the Queen’s Jubilee stuff happening on Tuesday (how could I ignore that?) and August McLaughlin’s fabulous Beauty of A Woman BlogFest could not be missed. I hope you had some time to check in on that! You will want to bookmark that blog and return again and again to read some amazing stories – some funny, some painful, all true. Great writing!
This week also celebrated the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens (Feb. 7th) and the planned festivities rival those for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee! Take a look at the official Dickens 2012 website here. It’s quite remarkable … but very fitting for an author who influenced the entire world.
I really wanted to mention a bit about Dickens this week but couldn’t fit him in until today. So then I wondered how I would tie him into something about France.
Bien sur! Of course! A Tale of Two Cities is one of my favourite novels. How about you? Set in France and England, I thought I would focus on where Dickens visited in Paris while he was gathering his research, right? After all, isn’t that what we all do as writers? We visit the places about which we are writing, n’est-ce pas? Of course today we do it via the internet more often than not.
I was sure there would at least be plaques around Paris saying that Dickens slept, or ate, or cavorted at such and such a location, since Paris has changed considerably since the Revolution! Well, mes amis, I’m shocked to tell you it just isn’t so! At least not that I could discover and I did a ton of googling! I’m going to do some more to make sure I haven’t missed anything but it appears he spent very little time in France. He did travel there a bit to do some readings but he disliked the Continent intensely and didn’t stay long. Apparently everything he wrote about France and Paris in A Tale of Two Cities, he wrote from England. He relied heavily on the writings of his good friend Scotsman Thomas Carlyle for much of the physical detail of the Revolution. Dickens’ brilliance in this novel came from his understanding of the roots of the Revolution and his incredible insight into human nature. However it was really Carlyle who wrote extensively about the actual Revolution. I found all this quite fascinating! If you want to read more click here for an excellent article about it.
A little back history on Dickens – He was born on February 7, 1812, the son of a clerk at the Navy Pay Office. His father, John Dickens, continually living beyond his means, was imprisoned for debt in the Marshalsea in 1824. 12-year-old Charles was removed from school and sent to work at a boot-blacking factory, earning six shillings a week to help support the family. This dark experience cast a shadow over the clever, sensitive boy that became a defining experience in his life, he would later write that he wondered “how I could have been so easily cast away at such an age.” For a long time he could not forgive his mother who had actually tried to keep him working at this child labour even longer.
This childhood poverty and feelings of abandonment, although unknown to his readers until after his death, were a heavy influence on Dickens’ later views on social reform and the world he created through his words. Don’t you think he might have felt better if he had spent some time researching in Paris and enjoyed some French wine and ladies of the evening or Can-can dancers?
So I’m feeling badly that Charles .. I don’t think he was ever a Chuck or a Chaz or a Charlie, do you? Charles just sounds so right for him … anyway, I’m feeling badly that he never loved Paris or really even kind of liked it. I’m sure if he were to come back today he might feel differently. He might enjoy strolling the lanes of Montmartre with all the artists working their craft for everyone to
get suckered into buying enjoy … well, it is pretty touristy I’ll admit but still fun and there are some very talented artists in the mix.
He would have missed the amazing Sacré Coeur and those delightful carousels the French have even in small towns. No matter how Dickens felt about Paris and how little time he spent there, I’m sure he did visit Notre Dame (below) which was very much a landmark even then. It was begun in the 10th C for heaven’s sake, although it was badly damaged during the Revolution.
Too bad the Eiffel Tower wasn’t there for him because that would have won him over for certain! Never mind, for someone who didn’t like France he was still a most amazing writer whose legacy will last forever. I’m sure he would forgive me too for using him as an excuse to put a few of my Paris photos in this post.
Speaking of amazing writers … pardon the segue … for the next two months, the fabulous Wana711 group of writers (graduates of one of Kristen Lamb’s fantastic blogging courses – sign up now if you haven’t taken it!! )has organized a blog tour. I’d like to introduce to you this week’s line-up of awesome budding writers and truly amazing published authors.
First up is Natalie Hartford. This ball of energy will keep you in stitches as she talks about life and just plain fun. This week she’s featuring Elena Aitken an author who writes some amazing stories that touch on emotions most would rather not admit. Check out both of these blogs. If you comment on the interview you could win one of Elena’s books. So hurry on over and have a visit.
Next is Angela Orlowski-Peart. Born in Europe and living in the United States gives her blog an international feel. This week she introduced author and friend Traci Bell who writes adult paranormal and fantasy. If you answer this week’s question you could also win a free copy of Traci’s book.
You only have today and tomorrow to get in on the two contests, but I guarantee you’ll enjoy the experience of these wonderful women.
Are you a fan of Charles Dickens? Which book is your favourite? Can you believe he didn’t spend time in Paris researching? I know, it’s shocking isn’t it? Ohhh sorry, it’s been a very long week of writing. I think I should go to bed now.